Congressional Gold Medal & Youth Summit

There’s been a lot of activity in the PSW lately, including the Congressional Gold Medal coming to the Japanese American National Museum.  On May 4th there was a small opening celebrating the medal and the 442nd, 100th, and MIS Veterans.  ImageThere were many prestigious speakers at the event, and it was heartwarming to see so many veterans come out to this event with their families.  

This is Jim, he was one of the many veterans who attended the opening of the Congressional Gold Medal Display.  He sat next to the medal telling stories of his time serving in the War.  “Ask me anything, I have ALL the answers!”  Growing up, I always felt like talking about the war was taboo, and a painful subject to ask my grandparents about.  Luckily, my grandmother was a teacher, and was willing to explain her experiences during incarceration.  It was so amazing to hear all the stories Jim had, and his willingness to talk to strangers about it!  I would have loved to listen to him all day.

On May 11th the JACL PSW participated in grand opening festivities at JANM’s Target Family Free Saturday with the Veterans as the theme.  We put together a large interactive timeline so that visitors to the museum could share their stories.  Many people wrote on the timeline including some of the veterans who were there!  It was an extremely rewarding experience for me to be able to talk with these wonderful men. Even though I was exhausted by the end of the day, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Below you can see our timeline, the medal, and the veterans who participated in the event.

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Another event I had the pleasure of being a part of was the National Youth/Student Council’s Leadership Summit in San Francisco, Empowering Communities: A Youth Focus on Community Building. We held the workshop at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.  It was exciting to continue working with the NY/SC on the summits that I worked on when I was still a youth representative.  We had a great turnout with folks from all walks of life.Image It was so fun to be able to participate in the workshops about communities and to get the opportunity to run the River of Life workshop.  I loved hearing about why people were involved in their respective communities.  Kevin and Kelly Imagedid a fantastic job running logistics and pulling out a last minute workshop.  Kevin discussed the importance of values and how sometimes you need to negotiate them.  He also helped us to realize our communication styles, and how both are good, but need to be understood.  Rhianna and Michaela had plenty of fun energizers and ice breakers to keep our energy up.  Mariko did a fun networking exercise where the participants had to get out of their comfort zone a little bit to communicate with each other.  We were also fortunate to have  Jirayut New Latthivongskorn (ASPIRE), Haruka Roudebush (Nakayoshi), Clifford Yee (OCA-San Francisco Bay Chapter) attend our summit to speak on a panel about best practices.  Their combined knowledge was so valuable!

More pictures are available here and on our facebook page. I can’t wait to continue this work with the NY/SC and to see many of these participants at our National Convention in Washington DC!  Thank you NY/SC members and participants in the summit for allowing me to be a part of this wonderful day!

Stephanie Nitahara

Regional Director